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Century-old story of Roslyn’s Legion Post namesake told

 

 

This year will mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Rudolph Baukol, the namesake of the Roslyn American Legion Post 253. Baukol was killed in action in 1918 in France while serving in World War I.

A special recognition service will be held Memorial Day at Fron ­Lutheran Church in rural Roslyn to commemorate the anniversary and to remember others who have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the United States of America.

According to writings from Loralie (Simonson) Wiese, Sioux City, IA – a niece of Baukol’s – Brigadier General Tom Croymans of the South Dakota National Guard will be on hand to present Baukol’s Purple Heart and other decorations to family.

These honors were never previously awarded.

A brief service will be conducted at the Fron Cemetery’s Soldier’s Circle beginning at 11 a.m. An American flag and poppy will be placed on each cross, a prayer will be read and a three-round volley will be fired while the sound of a bugle is played.

Wiese will be speaker at the event, sharing the story of Baukol’s life. Wiese’s grandfather Alfred was a brother of Baukol.

The following is a condensed history of Baukol’s life and his brief marriage to Rose Longen, written by Wiese. She researched the story over the last several years through newspaper clippings and family memories.

Rudolph Baukol was born in Day County in 1895 to Norwegian immigrants who homesteaded in Liberty Township near Roslyn. Rudolph was one of eight children, described as a fun-loving young man who could talk his sisters into motorcycle rides and who often is pictured playing cards with his brothers.

At the age of 20 Rudolph spent a few months at a business college in York, Nebraska (350 miles south of Roslyn), learning the “ledger” and typewriting. This was preparing him to work as a clerk for his older brother Henry in the Baukol Store in Roslyn.

Rose Longen (was) born in 1896 to German immigrants, grew up on a farm in neighboring Nutley Township, near Eden, four or five miles from the Baukol homestead. Due in part to her father’s bout with scarlet fever and his resulting deafness, Rose and her family auctioned their farm and moved to Webster when Rose was nearly 20. She had one older brother and three younger sisters.

It is unknown exactly when and where Rudolph and Rose met, but the earliest photo of the pair was taken in 1916.

At this time much of Europe was embroiled in “The Great War,” also known as “the War to End All Wars.” Although President Wilson campaigned in 1916 to keep America out of the war, Germany’s eventual declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare and other factors led to President Wilson’s April 2, 1917 request to a joint session of Congress for a declaration of war against Germany to “make the world safe for Democracy.” Four days later, Congress overwhelmingly passed the War Resolution, bringing the U.S. into The Great War.

The call for the recruitment and enlistment of young men was immediate. Although signing up under the Selective Service Act did not officially begin until June, by early May, 136 names made up Day County’s Troop “M” of the 1st South Dakota Cavalry – among them, Rudolph Baukol.

During the summer of 1917, family photos indicate that Rudolph and Rose spent time together when Rudolph was not training with his fellow recruits at the Day County Fairgrounds in Webster. These weeks were filled with fundraising events for Troop “M,” the encouragement to purchase war bonds and huge displays of community support for the war effort, culminating in “Troop Day” July 20, 1917 in Webster, to honor the cavalry.

Orders were received and on Sept. 20, 1917 Troop “M” left Webster by train for Deming, NM for further training at nearby Camp Cody.

A newspaper clipping reported that Rose left for Deming Dec. 26, 1917. Rudolph and Rose were married Jan. 5, 1918, and moved into their bungalow in Camp Cody, becoming friends with other married couples. A photograph recalls a Sunday afternoon “Pie Party” enjoyed with friends.

Rudolph and Rose had nearly six months together before his orders arrived. After he left for France, Rose returned to the Webster area.

Although Rudolph’s official military records were destroyed by the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, he eventually was assigned to the American Expeditionary Force, 77th Division, 305th Infantry, Company I. Private Baukol was killed on Aug. 15, 1918 while on patrol duty on the Vesle front. Less than three months later, The Great War was over.

Many details of this story were learned during a serendipitous visit between Baukol and Longen relatives a few years ago. Since then photo albums and additional memories from Rose’s nieces and nephews have added to this bittersweet account.

The mystery that remains is exactly when Rose learned of Rudolph’s death. A family letter dated March 1919 notes that they were still waiting to hear about Rudolph---eight months after his death.

Rose moved to the Minneapolis, MN area where other family members and Camp Cody friends lived. She eventually had Rudolph’s body returned from France and brought to Minneapolis where his funeral, with full military honors, took place on June 13, 1921. He is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery, a few blocks from where Rose made her permanent home.

Sewing uniforms for nurses at Fairview Hospital was Rose’s vocation. Her photo albums are filled with memories of times spent with Baukol and Longen relatives, neighbors, Fairview nurses and extended families of Camp Cody friends.

Rose’s nieces and nephews remember her daily walks to Rudolph’s grave site to tend the flowers or to sit quietly on a bench she placed there. Rose never remarried. She died Oct. 15, 1968 at the age of 72 – 50 years and two months after Rudolph’s death in France. Rose is buried next to her husband.

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